Balmy shines in Pimlico win

Filly heads $47.60 exacta in first stakes of meet

Xtra Heat leaves Dubai

Notebook

Horse Racing

April 06, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

A 4-year-old filly from Philadelphia Park crashed the party yesterday at Pimlico, winning the first stakes of the spring meet on a cool, foggy afternoon.

Balmy it wasn't, but Balmy it was hustling under the wire for a 1 1/4 -length victory in the $75,000 Primonetta Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. The win was the fifth in 11 races and third in a row for the John Servis-trained horse. For Servis, it was his fourth stakes win this year in Maryland.

"Everything worked great for her," said Ramon Dominguez, Balmy's jockey.

New York-based Vesta, the 4-5 favorite, broke awkwardly, rushed into contention and then faded to last. She had won two races last year at Pimlico, including the Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes. This was her second race of 2003.

"She didn't run," said Mario Pino, her jockey. "She ran a big race off the layoff. Maybe that took it out of her."

Darnestown, who has a history of racing erratically, rallied for second in the six-horse field. Her jockey, Jeremy Rose, was pleased.

"She's learning," Rose said. "She's a stakes horse. She can run."

Balmy completed the six furlongs in 1 minute, 10.97 seconds. As the 3-1 second choice, she headed a $47.60 exacta with the 6-1 Darnestown and a $157.80 trifecta with the 4-1 Hunka Hunka Lori Z third.

Xtra long trip

Xtra Heat is expected back at her Laurel Park barn Tuesday after her five-week trip to Dubai. Trainer John Salzman said she was to depart Dubai about 1 a.m. today, fly to New York, spend two days in quarantine and van to Laurel on Tuesday evening.

Xtra Heat traveled to the Middle East to compete in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen as part of the Dubai World Cup program. She missed the race after injuring an ankle while apparently struggling to get up after lying down in her stall.

"She seems to be fine," Salzman said. "She just sprained it."

He said she has been walking every day in Dubai and once home will return to the track. She should be ready to race after a breeze or two, he said.

Auction to fight cancer

The second annual benefit auction for the Betsy Wells Cancer Support Fund will be held May 4, the day after the Kentucky Derby, at Mt. Washington Tavern in Baltimore.

Established by the Maryland Horsemen's Assistance Fund, the nonprofit program helps people in the thoroughbred industry afflicted with cancer. The fund is named after Betsy Wells, a longtime horsewoman who has struggled with cancer and now lives in Pennsylvania, working as an administrative assistant at a real-estate firm.

Wells said she is doing fine and will try to attend the auction, which begins at 6 p.m. Offerings include dates with local jockeys Ryan Fogelsonger and Natasha D. Bracaloni, bobble-head dolls, a race at Pimlico for which the high bidder can write the conditions and a wide variety of racing memorabilia.

Azeri to miss `Special'

Azeri, Horse of the Year for 2002, probably will challenge males this year but not in the Pimlico Special, said Laura de Seroux, her trainer. The 5-year-old mare won her 2003 debut, the Apple Blossom Handicap, yesterday at Oaklawn Park.

De Seroux said Azeri probably will race next in the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 2, Kentucky Oaks day. Azeri could take on males in the Hollywood Gold Cup or Pacific Classic, the trainer said.

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